Unlearning the Fixed Mindset

Disclaimer: I’m assuming you have watched the video in my last post. If you haven’t, this post may be a bit confusing.

So, after I watched that video the first time, I cried. I cried because it all made sense. That’s me. That is why I feel so weak and stupid and pathetic. Performance praise.

I recognized so deeply that as a child I was trained to see my actions as more important than myself and my results as equivalent to my ability. I am what I do, and if I do nothing, I am nothing. 

So, you see, I need to achieve in order to justify my existence. If I cannot succeed, I am worthless.

It seems innocuous to tell children that they are getting A’s because they are smart, but I know so many people who cried at their first A- (and B, and C, and D, and F). We saw our struggles as our limits and we fell into failure spirals as we tried to push past them.

So, I’m sitting there, holding my phone, calling out, “Now what? I need more!” This woman has taught me how to keep kids from following me to where I am, but is that it? Do I just write off the rest of your own life because I can’t prevent the adults around me from making me into a paralyzed adult?

And I stare at the screen. And it goes black to save power. And I cry.

Some time later, it occurs to me that the only thing I can do- the only path I can see- is to remake my childhood. To willfully enter that environment again. To find something in which I have no training or skill, something in which I am a novice, as I once was with the alphabet or long division, and start again.

I need to set myself up for failure and struggle, frustration and despair, but respond differently this time.

I must be both the child who needs to be told how to interpret her performance and the adult who comforts and emphasizes future potential and the long, winding road to come.

It was terrifying (is still intimidating), but that is why I am learning pottery now. That is why I go back every Friday and try again, and fail, and watch others fail, and succeed, and watch others succeed, and struggle, and fight, and endure.

Because I haven’t given up on myself. Because I am going to learn to value the process. Because I am going to learn to value myself.


Performance vs. Process

Well, this is what I was trying to avoid- dead air. Sorry, everyone.

I think that it would be worthwhile to post a video that covers the performance/process dichotomy that I’m wrestling with in pottery class. It is about schools and childhood, which makes sense because they make up the bulk of formative experiences for many people. We learn who we are, how we fit in, and how to interact with others through our time in school.

It’s called “RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential” and RSA posted it. (Sorry that I can’t embed a player from my phone.)


Returning to Routine

Well, it’s been a while for me, so this is weird for me. I told you guys once or twice that I write things ahead of time. I wrote the entire guild series on the same day.

Because it was a big deal to me.

Because it felt like a break up.

I had been ready to commit to these people, to remove my “leave guild” button (which isn’t possible). I overlooked my guild master flirting with someone while she was married. I ignored the pressures to play more or spend more money. I justified and rationalized as more and more lines were crossed. I let myself be taken advantage of in some ways.

And unfortunately, that type of thing is fairly similar to the relationships I’ve had in my past. (My husband is fortunately nothing like this, by the way.)

So I spammed through it all. And I ended up 40 days ahead.

In the mean time, I’ve wanted to write things, but I knew that it would take a long time for them to appear. So I didn’t.

I just… lived without talking to anyone about things. (Not that I’m actually part of a community here. I never reach out to any of you, so I prevent any connections from forming.)

So what am I doing now?

Well, I joined a new guild, and it’s been going ok so far. I uninstalled Line, so I can’t be reached when I don’t want to be reached. It also means that they haven’t gotten a chance to share the rules with me yet, which I am secretly enjoying. And instead of being in the top 3 members, I’m in one of the lower two tiers, with no commitment and no responsibility. It’s great.

My husband and I joined a pottery class, because I have always wanted to learn how to throw pots. So I’m trying it. But it’s hard for me to do something new- to fail something new- because all my life, I’ve gotten performance praise, not process praise, and I tried, really really tried to learn what was expected of me. My parents, my teachers, all the adults my life seemed to really want me to succeed, so I tried very hard to succeed. But then, what happens when I can’t succeed? What happens when no amount of effort or time can produce results? What happens to me then? Am I still worth anything if I can’t perform? (Of course not.)

So, I am trying to change my worldview by taking this class, but handling it differently than I would have before. The only way to fight experience is with new experience, after all. So my next class is tomorrow, and I am… apprehensive about it. It’s only the second class.

Today is January 28th. This entry goes live in one week. I don’t know what will happen next.

Act 6- Departure

My husband encouraged me to leave them, mourned the ways that I had let people treat me and the things I had done against my will. I cried about that too, and the weight of my lack of concern for myself poured out on me.

I see myself like dirt, so I let people treat me like dirt, and it just continues. This is sad. No one should be like this.

I slept. I didn’t log in the next day, because the war was still going on. Yesterday, I logged on as soon as the war ended, hoping to leave, but a raid had started right on the heels of the war. Seconds were all that I may have had between events, and I missed the window of escape. So I logged out.

The raid ended two hours ago today. I should be able to slip out, delete all my friends, change my name, and create enough space that I could play on my own, if I still want to.

I haven’t left yet because I’ve been writing these entries today. My battery is almost dead; I don’t know if I will have enough power left to disappear fully before my phone dies. I’m not home, after all. 6% left. I’ll see if I can borrow a charger.

I may be free this afternoon after all.